In a perfect cinematic world, you'd be able to watch every movie you wanted to watch as soon as it was released on a big screen with good sound and projection and an appreciative audience. In the real world, we're always making compromises: my friends don't want to see what I want to see tonight, that new indie movie is only playing in New York and may never play in my town, the woman sitting next to me in the theater keeps talking to her friends.

Mad Detective opened on Friday, but as noted by Eric D. Snider in his latest Indie Spotlight, only in New York. I have no idea if it will ever play in Dallas, where I live, but based on recent history, chances are, it won't. I'm a huge fan of Hong Kong filmmakers Johnny To and Wai Ka Fai, who co-directed, and Lau Ching Wan, a great, underappreciated actor (Beyond Hypothermia, Big Bullet, A Hero Never Dies), but I've been reluctant to spring for the import DVD, which would set me back nearly 20 bucks. (The trailer's available to watch at Moviefone.)

So I compromised and spent $5.99 to watch Mad Detective via the "IFC in Theaters" video on demand (VOD) service on my cable system. That's comparable to a matinee showing at a local arthouse -- I paid $6.75 to see The Wackness on Saturday afternoon -- but the experience is, obviously, not the same. For one thing, "IFC in Theaters" is only available in standard definition, so the picture looks only so-so, even on my 26-inch high-def monitor.